Monday 4 December 2023

Nandor Fodor and the Talking Mongoose

The release of a Hollywood movie about Gef the talking mongoose had just hit the news before I went to the Isle of Man for the first time. During this trip I visited the remains of the Irvings' home, see background links below, and so was eager to watch the film on my return. It is actually a crowdfunded project by a number of different studios and the director is called Adam Sigal; and he used to work as a private eye, of all things. The story centres on Nandor Fodor, a real paranormal investigator who visited the Irvings to investigate Gef. In the film he is portrayed as a grief-stricken alcoholic whose only comfort comes from his assistant Anne, played by Minnie Driver, and his friend, another real ghost hunter, Harry Price. Source: The film is so historically and factually inaccurate that it's hard to know where to start. It was not filmed on the Isle of Man, which should really annoy the Manx tourist board. The island itself is shown as being very close to the mainland and can be reached by a small boat, which is of course not true; it's in the middle of the Irish Sea and a good few hours voyage on a large ship. The Irvings have a farmhand named Errol who is played by a black actor when I doubt if any black people lived on the Isle of Man in the 1930's. This is typical unnecessary and obtrusive "diversity and inclusion" casting which will annoy anti-woke conservatives; but it will also irk left-wingers because Errol is a servant, a stereotypical black person's role. He speaks with a strong West Country accent while another supporting character, Maurice, has an Ulster accent. The accents are all over the place in this project. Harry Price is played by Christopher Lloyd who has a lot of experience with acting in ghost stories, but he is far too old to play Harry Price. What's more Price was English and yet Lloyd retains his American accent when he is perfectly capable of dropping it. Also, despite the film being set in London when not on the Isle of Man, the currency people use are called "dollars". Despite the presence of genuine photos of the Irvings and their house in the closing credits, the filmmakers are not interested in delivering any kind of true story. It is simply a comedy with a very loose connection to the real Gef enigma, deliberately so. It's not all bad though. There is a scene about Harry Houdini which includes something I thought was a totally fringe, that his wife did indeed receive the coded message via a medium that the couple agreed on before Harry's death, see here for details: Deep down, Fodor is suffering from losing his father and is desperately seeking evidence for anything supernatural because it might also support the existence of the afterlife. He refuses to believe without that, whereas at one point Errol says that it doesn't matter what is real so long as people believe in something that makes them happy. What doesn't make sense is that when Fodor receives what he is looking for, in the form of mongoose scratches on his wrist, he turns into a skeptic. This transformation is never explained. The film is mildly amusing, but it lacks a coherent plot and is not as close to the real history of the "eighth wonder of the world" as I had hoped.
See here for background:

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